Monday, April 21, 2014

Powdered Alcohol: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Over the weekend I saw a link on Facebook to a post on Gawker talking about a new powdered alcohol product called "Palcohol." To be totally honest, I thought the post was a joke. Maybe a gag left over from April Fool's Day. But upon further review, I soon discovered it wasn't a joke. Palcohol was indeed a real product and the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau had just approved it.

WTF? Seriously???? I was beyond outraged when I found this out.

I was even more outraged when I looked at the cached version of Palcohol's website. The version that was up on the web for everyone to see before the government approved the product, but which was quickly edited to a "nicer" version after approval was granted. It's almost like the company wasn't expecting government approval. Unfortunately, that cached page has vanished now. But I took screenshots of it before it went bye-bye:

I don't know if the above photos will open large enough so that you can read them, but let me help you out with some of the wonderful things said on that page.

The initial text on the page says: "Palcohol...because liquid alcohol isn't always convenient." The text then goes on to say, "Imagine the possibilities" and proceeds to list seven things. Among them:

2. Maybe you're a college football fan. So many stadiums don't even serve alcohol. What's that about; watching football without drinking?! That's almost criminal. Bring Palcohol in and enjoy the game.


5. Have you ever gone to a movie theater and wished you had a drink? I know!


6. We've been talking about drinks so far. But we have found that adding Palcohol to food is so much fun. Sprinkle Palcohol on almost any dish and give it an extra kick. Some of our favorites are the Kamikaze in guacamole, Rum on a BBQ sandwich, Cosmo on a salad and Vodka on your eggs in the morning to start your day off right. Experiment. Palcohol is great on so many foods. Remember, you have to add Palcohol AFTER a dish is cooked as the alcohol will burn off if you cook with it...and that defeats the whole purpose.

And the final item in the list...

7. Let's talk about the elephant in the room...snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you'll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose. Good idea? No. It will mess you up. Use Palcohol responsibly.

Nice "possibilities," huh? Here's the way I interpret the items I listed:

1.) Use Palcohol so you can drink where you ordinarily wouldn't be able to.

2.) Use Palcohol on food items so you can get drunk while you eat and no one will notice.

3.) Palcohol can be snorted. (Sure, they're saying it's not a good idea; but they already let the cat out of the bag.)

When I went to the Palcohol Facebook page and posted what I thought of their product, I got a very interesting response. You won't be able to see it on their Facebook page, because they deleted it shortly after I posted it, but again...Here's a screenshot that I think you'll be able to read:

So, the original wording on their website was "just a draft and not meant as our message." Oh, really? That kind of surprises me since the website--and the initial copy that went along with it--was out there for everyone to see while the government was deciding whether or not to approve the product. It was only after approval--and after Gawker called them out on it--that Palcohol changed the text on their website.

What bothers me most about the original words on the Palcohol site is the flippant tone of the message, which is pretty much--in my opinion--"Look at the ways you can use this stuff to get yourself messed up in ways you really shouldn't."

Enough with the company, though. I "get" that this is America and that people have a right to dream and create products in hopes of striking it rich. And to a lot of people and businesses it doesn't matter if you end up screwing people up or killing them in the process. Like Puff Daddy said, "It's all about the Benjamins." That's sad, but so true.

What gets me incredibly pissed off about this whole Palcohol thing is that a United States government agency approved it. Maybe it's just another "alcoholic beverage" to them. But I wonder if anyone actually stopped to think about the opportunities for misuse and abuse that this product brings to the table.

I can see people--and by people I mean those of legal drinking age AND minors, because I think this product will have loads of appeal with teenagers--adding this crap to their already alcoholic drinks. "Hey, let's see what happens when we add Kamikaze to a beer!" Let's face it: a lot of kids will think of this product as a novelty, a sort of alcoholic Kool-Aid; and they will experiment with it.

I can also see people using it on food as a way of disguising the fact that they're "drinking." Kids could take this stuff to a high school football game, sprinkle it on their hot dog or nachos, and voila! They're getting drunk without anyone noticing it.

And what about people sprinkling this garbage on other people's food and in other people's drinks...without their knowledge? Did anyone on the government bureau think of that possibility when considering whether or not to approve Palcohol?

Perhaps the most disturbing possible misuse/abuse of this product is people snorting it. Snorting a drug--even powdered alcohol--is a quick and easy way to get it into your blood stream for a maximum high. That's why some people snort heroin, or cocaine, or crushed up prescription pain killers. The dangers of snorting this powdered alcohol would be huge. Quite simply, alcohol is not meant to be snorted. And again, I realize the Palcohol people are saying not to snort their product (wink, wink); but they certainly put it "out there," didn't they? (FYI: One person posted in a Facebook thread last night that if they were still using they would probably inject Palcohol.)

I could go on and on about this shit. (Pardon my language, but that's what this stuff is: shit.) There are so many products already on the market that are trying to grab hold of teens and get them to drink (think flavored vodkas, for example). Do we really need yet another product to entice our young people and possibly lead them down a wrong path? I think not.

Because I so strongly disapprove of this powdered alcohol product, I've done a couple of things.

1. I've started a petition to try and convince the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to reconsider their approval of Palcohol. I know this is an uphill battle, especially since the approval has already been given. But you can't change anything if you don't try, so I'm at least trying. I started the petition yesterday and 189 people have signed it as of the time I'm writing this post. That doesn't sound like very many, but I'm hoping people will share the petition on their Facebook pages, tweet it to their Twitter followers, and email it to their friends and relatives. If you agree that Palcohol is a garbage product with potentially awful "side effects" for society, please sign the petition and share it. (Note: Every time someone signs the petition, an email is sent to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.)

2. I've also started a Facebook page called "We Oppose Palcohol." As I type this post, the page has 75 "Likes." Again, not many. But if you're on Facebook and like the page, then share it with everyone you know, maybe we can bump that number up a bit. There is definitely strength in numbers.

If you think a campaign like this can't be successful, please think again. I worked hard on a campaign to get Urban Outfitters to stop selling prescription-drug-related merchandise in their stores and on their website; and it worked. I also worked tirelessly on a campaign to get a Los Angeles boutique to stop selling jerseys with the names of commonly abused prescription drugs on the back of them; and it worked.

Sometimes if enough people make enough noise, they can change things. So how 'bout you come make some noise with me? Let the Palcohol people know what you think of their product and see if you can get yourself blocked from their Facebook and Twitter pages, too. And sign and share my petition, and like and share my We Oppose Palcohol Facebook page. Together, maybe we can at least shake things up a bit.

Thanks in advance.


UPDATE (4/21/14, 8:21pm)

News broke late today that the previously issued government approvals for Palcohol "were issued in error." That came from Tom Hogue, a representative of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. However, no further details were released. The Palcohol people seem to think it's just a matter of having to resubmit labels. But that's not clear. In any case, I believe we need to keep fighting this powdered alcohol product. This means continuing to sign and share the petition and Facebook page. We can't assume this product is "dead." Because it may just be delayed.

Click on this link to read an Associated Press article about the erroneous Palcohol approvals (via ABC News).

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result." --Mahatma Gandhi

I have no words.


  1. I wonder what the phislogical effects are Vs. Liquid alcohol are on the body. We all know the liver damage etc. with this consumption. Im just curious is it could be harnessed and made a controlled substance like many are. My point here is that people arebuyi g and using much worse on the black market e.g. "Crack" etc. We cannot fool ourselves and think anyone can control addiction, it is all powerful. That said before people jump my shit for saying my feelings, the marketing is what is wrong, the use or misuse is the same in any form! I think more testing and regulation plus warnings are the key. People have known for over 50 years cigarettes Will kill you but you can get them at any gas station. Drugs made in basements take lives everyday. I say lets harness this technology and try to regulate it too keep it out of irresponsible hands. My Opi.

  2. i'm glad i found your post with the original, cached pages. this is ridiculous. i've emailed my senator and rep here in new york and hope to raise awareness. we're in the middle of a heroin epidemic. consider what teens already do with liquid alcohol - eye shots, butt chugging, etc. it's horrific. now let's give them easy-to-transport and hide powder! let's see what happens. disgusting. i will be making as much noise about this as i can.

  3. I agree to EVERY word you wrote. I can NOT believe this will be approved, and it just makes me really pissed. I have never wanted to flee the good ol' USA as I do at this moment. It really is just all about the money. This is tragedy waiting to happen.

  4. I simply cannot believe that our government would approve sale of this product. It's a parent's worst nightmare. I can't even imagine how this is made. I thought alcohol had to be in liquid form.

  5. Seriously, could it get any eaier to ruin your life these days? We've become a nation of 'feel good.' Drink more, eat more, spend more, work more, repeat. It's too bad we couldn't put kindness and integrity into powered form and package that. Thank you for taking a stand. I stand with you. Lorelie Rozzano.

  6. This is all a reminder that the drug prohibition statutes have absolutely NOTING to do with combating drug abuse and everything to do with protecting more dangerous substances while perverting safer substances into concentrated forms- aka removing dilute cocaine from Coca Cola to protect Tobacco.